Whether you’re interested in having major repairs/renovations performed in your residence or place of business, a dependable contractor can be an invaluable ally. Additionally, given how much renovations typically cost, it stands to reason that you’d want to find the most reliable person for the job. Getting stuck with the wrong contractor can facilitate endless headaches and tremendous financial strain, so to help ensure that you don’t wind up with a lemon, put the following pointers to good use.

Limit Your Choices to Licensed Contractors: 

Working with unlicensed contractors is a bad idea for a number of reasons. For starters, if a contractor isn’t licensed to practice within your municipality, they are liable to have a hard time pulling permits, especially in many municipalities with the cutting-edge government software systems.

Secondly, putting forth the time and effort to get licensed indicates a certain level of professionalism and dedication to one’s craft. On the flipside, forgoing the licensing process entirely serves as an indicator that someone isn’t particularly confident in their abilities. 

Additionally, keep in mind that contractor licensing, registration and certification requirements vary from state to state, so being able to operate in one state doesn’t mean someone is licensed to do so in every state. That being the case, make sure to confirm that someone is licensed to work as a contractor in your state before proceeding to hire them.

Although unlicensed contractors tend to charge lower rates, you’re liable to wind up spending more than you stand to save when working with them. Since they have little incentive to stick with jobs until the end, you may find yourself left with unfinished repairs/renovations once the work becomes too difficult or cumbersome. Furthermore, even if an unlicensed contractor offers a guarantee with their work, there’s no telling whether or not they’ll actually follow through. After all, they’re not going to lose a license they never had in the first place. 

So, before committing to hire a contractor, request proof of licensing, certification or registration. Should they refuse to provide it, start exploring other options.

Only Work with Contractors Who Are Insured: 

Any contractor with whom you do business should be insured. In the absence of proper insurance, you may be held responsible for covering any medical costs contractors accrue or property damage they cause while in your employ. So, before proceeding to hire someone, confirm that they have general liability, professional liability, commercial auto, worker’s compensation, inland marine and business owner’s policies. Furthermore, depending on the type of work being undertaken, additional forms of insurance may be needed. 

Seek Out Feedback from Previous Customers: 

Reading feedback from previous customers is one of the best ways to get a feel for someone’s business practices. Although many contractors’ websites feature glowing testimonials from satisfied clients, these aren’t always an accurate indicator of someone’s actual approach to clients. As such, take care to look for reviews on various consumer feedback websites, social media platforms and various other corners of the web. 

When reading customer feedback, it’s important to remember that a single bad review shouldn’t necessarily preclude you from hiring someone – especially if the vast majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Virtually every contractor is bound to have a small amount of negative feedback, and while you should never discount outlier reviews, you shouldn’t place a tremendous amount of stock in them, either.  

Beware of People Who Overpromise: 

Some contractors will say anything to earn your business. And while attentiveness to customer needs is certainly important, there’s a difference between being accommodating and overpromising. So, if any of the timetables, cost estimates or other claims a contractor puts forth strike you as too good to be true, there’s a strong possibility that they are. This is among the many reasons obtaining multiple estimates from multiple contractors in advance of choosing someone for the job is a good idea. 

How smoothly renovations go largely depends on the quality of the contractors you hire. While good contractors can be an absolute pleasure to work with, bad contractors can turn even the simplest renovations into financially-draining nightmares. Fortunately, there are numerous steps you can take to minimize your chances of hiring the wrong contractors. So, the next time your home or business is in need of repairs and/or renovations, heed the advice outlined above.